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FEIN CONTAINER CORP. v. LOCAL NO. 810

November 2, 1986

FEIN CONTAINER CORPORATION, Plaintiff,
v.
LOCAL NO. 810, STEEL METALS ALLOYS AND HARDWARE FABRICATORS AND WAREHOUSEMEN, Affiliated With International Brotherhood of Teamsters, Defendant



The opinion of the court was delivered by: ACKERMAN

 On October 25, 1986, members of Local Union Number 810, Steel Metal Alloys and Hardware Fabricators and Warehousemen, affiliated with the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, began a strike against their employer, Fein Container Corporation of Saddle Brook, New Jersey. Fein instituted suit against Local 810 seeking a Temporary Restraining Order and preliminary injunctive relief. Specifically, Fein sought an injunction prohibiting Local 810's work stoppage, an injunction ordering Fein and Local 810 to arbitrate a dispute concerning the duration of their Collective Bargaining Agreement originally entered into on February 21, 1983, and compensatory and punitive damages.

 The matter was originally brought to federal court on October 30, 1986. On that day, the Honorable Alfred J. Lechner, Jr. of this district granted Fein's request for a Temporary Restraining Order prohibiting picketing on the part of the Union and its members.

 Soon thereafter, the employer sought to have the Union held in contempt for violating Judge Lechner's Order. Because the case had been assigned to me, I began hearing testimony on the contempt motion. The employer then determined that it would prefer to have the Court hear testimony relating to its application for preliminary injunctive relief. I acceded to the employer's request. Therefore, I now have before me Fein's application for preliminary injunctive relief.

 Fein's request for preliminary injunctive relief has two parts. First, the request for an injunction against the strike and, second, the request for an injunction ordering Fein and Local 810 to arbitrate the dispute concerning the duration of their 1983 Collective Bargaining Agreement. See Plaintiff's Memorandum of Law In Support of Motion for Temporary Restraining Order at Page 11, Plaintiff's Supplemental Brief in Support of the Motion for Temporary Restraining Order/Preliminary Injunction at Pages 13 and 14, and Plaintiff's Verified Complaint at Pages 5 and 6. I shall address each part of Fein's two-part request in turn. Pursuant to Rule 52(a) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, I hereby make findings of fact and conclusions of law.

 First, I address Fein's request for an injunction against the strike. Fein brings its claims under Section 301(a) of the Labor Management Relations Act, 29 U.S.C. Section 185(a) (1982). Section 301(a) gives federal courts jurisdiction over disputes for violation of Collective Bargaining Agreements. Section 4 of the Norris-LaGuardia Act, 29 U.S.C. Section 104 (1982), qualifies that jurisdiction. Section 4 provides in part that: "No court of the United States shall have jurisdiction to issue any restraining order or temporary or permanent injunction in any case involving or growing out of any labor dispute to prohibit any person or persons participating or interested in such disputes . . . from doing, whether singly or in concert, any of the following acts: (a) Ceasing or refusing to perform any work or to remain in any relation of employment. . . ." 29 U.S.C. Section 104.

 The Supreme Court of the United States has recognized certain narrow exceptions to Section 4, exceptions which effectively restore to the federal courts jurisdiction to issue injunctions in cases brought under Section 301(a) of the Labor Management Relations Act. One of these exceptions was announced in Boys Markets, Inc. v. Retail Clerks, 398 U.S. 235, 90 S. Ct. 1583, 26 L. Ed. 2d 199 (1970), and refined in Buffalo Forge Co. v. Steelworkers, 428 U.S. 397, 96 S. Ct. 3141, 49 L. Ed. 2d 1022 (1976) and Jacksonville Bulk Terminals, Inc. v. Longshoremen, 457 U.S. 702, 102 S. Ct. 2672, 73 L. Ed. 2d 327 (1982). It is upon this, the Boys Markets exception, that Fein relies today in requesting this Court to enjoin the strike by Local 810. In effect, Fein seeks a " Boys Markets injunction." See Avco Corporation v. Local Union # 787, 459 F.2d 968, 969 (3d Cir.1972).

 In Boys Markets, the Supreme Court defined a specific, narrow instance in which federal courts were empowered to enjoin strikes by Unions. The Court stated that: "Our holding in the present case is a narrow one. We do not undermine the vitality of the Norris-LaGuardia Act. We deal only with the situation in which a collective-bargaining contract contains a mandatory grievance adjustment or arbitration procedure. Nor does it follow from what we have said that injunctive relief is appropriate as a matter of course in every case of a strike over an arbitrable grievance. The dissenting opinion in Sinclair [ Refining Co. v. Atkinson, 370 U.S. 195, 82 S. Ct. 1328, 8 L. Ed. 2d 440 (1962)] suggested the following principles for the guidance of the district courts in determining whether to grant injunctive relief -- principles that we now adopt: 'A District Court entertaining an action under Section 301 may not grant injunctive relief against concerted activity unless and until it decides that the case is one in which an injunction would be appropriate despite the Norris-LaGuardia Act. When a strike is sought to be enjoined because it is over a grievance which both parties are contractually bound to arbitrate, the District Court may issue no injunctive order until it first holds that the contract does have that effect; and the employer should be ordered to arbitrate, as a condition of his obtaining an injunction against the strike. Beyond this, the District Court must, of course, consider whether issuance of an injunction would be warranted under ordinary principles of equity -- whether breaches are occurring and will continue, or have been threatened and will be committed; whether they have caused or will cause irreparable injury to the employer; and whether the employer will suffer more from the denial of an injunction than will the union from its issuance.' 370 U.S. at 228, 82 S. Ct. at 1346." 398 U.S. at 253-54, 90 S. Ct. at 1594.

 The Court further stated that in the case before it there was "no dispute that the grievance in question was subject to adjustment and arbitration under the collective-bargaining agreement." 398 U.S. at 254, 90 S. Ct. at 1594.

 In each of the two later cases, Buffalo Forge and Jacksonville Bulk Terminals, the Court found that it was not beyond dispute that the grievance over which the Union had struck was subject to arbitration under the Collective Bargaining Agreement.

 In the Jacksonville case, a union local affiliated with the International Longshoremen's Association refused to load goods onto a ship bound for the Soviet Union, in apparent reaction to the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan and President Carter's announcement, on January 4, 1980, that certain commercial ties between the United States and the Soviet Union would be broken in reprisal for the invasion. 457 U.S. at 704-05, 102 S. Ct. at 2676.

 The employer sought, inter alia, a Boys Markets injunction against the work stoppage. 457 U.S. at 706, 102 S. Ct. at 2677. The Court stated that "the Employer argues that the Union's work stoppage may be enjoined under the rationale of Boys Markets, Inc. v. Retail Clerks, 398 U.S. 235, 90 S. Ct. 1583, 26 L. Ed. 2d 199 (1970), and Buffalo Forge Co. v. Steelworkers, 428 U.S. 397, 96 S. Ct. 3141, 49 L. Ed. 2d 1022 (1976), because the dispute underlying the work stoppage is arbitrable under the collective-bargaining agreement. In making this argument, the Employer disavows its earlier argument that the underlying dispute is purely political, and asserts that the Union's work stoppage was motivated by a disagreement with the Employer over the management-rights clause in the collective-bargaining agreement . . . We disagree. Buffalo Forge makes it clear that a Boys Markets injunction pending arbitration should not issue unless the dispute underlying the work stoppage is arbitrable. The rationale of Buffalo Forge compels the conclusion that the Union's work stoppage, called to protest the invasion of Afghanistan by the Soviet Union, may not be enjoined pending the arbitrator's decision on whether the work stoppage violates the no-strike clause in the collective-bargaining agreement. The underlying dispute, whether viewed as an expression of the Union's 'moral outrage' at Soviet military policy or as an expression of sympathy for the people of Afghanistan, is plainly not arbitrable under the collective-bargaining agreement.

 "The attempts by the Solicitor General and the Employer to characterize the underlying dispute as arbitrable do not withstand analysis. The 'underlying' disputes concerning the management-rights clause or the work-conditions clause simply did not trigger the work stoppage. To the contrary, the applicability of these clauses to the dispute, if any, was triggered by the work stoppage itself. Consideration of whether the strike intruded on the management-rights clause or was permitted by the work-conditions clause may inform the arbitrator's ultimate decision on whether the strike violates the no-strike clause. Indeed, the question whether striking over a nonarbitrable issue violates other provisions of the collective-bargaining agreement may itself be an arbitrable dispute. The fact remains, however, that the strike itself was not over an arbitrable dispute and therefore may not be enjoined pending the arbitrator's ruling on the legality of the strike under the collective-bargaining agreement . . . The Employer's argument that this work stoppage may be enjoined pending arbitration really reflects a fundamental disagreement with the rationale of Buffalo Forge, and not a belief that this rationale permits an injunction in this case. The Employer apparently disagrees with the Buffalo Forge Court's conclusion that, in agreeing to broad arbitration and no-strike clauses, the parties do not bargain for injunctive relief to restore the status quo pending the arbitrator's decision of the legality of the strike under the collective-bargaining agreement, without regard to what triggered the strike. Instead, they bargain only for specific enforcement of the union's promise to arbitrate the underlying grievance before resorting to a strike. See 428 U.S. at 410-412, 96 S. Ct. at 3148-49." 457 U.S. at 720-23, 102 S. Ct. at 2684-85.

 Thus, the Jacksonville case makes it clear that a Boys Markets injunction should not issue in every case in which a union strikes over some dispute, the propriety of the strike is unclear under the terms of the Collective Bargaining Agreement, and the Collective Bargaining Agreement binds the parties to arbitrate disputes arising under the agreement. In addition, the dispute over which the union strikes, the dispute which "triggers" the work stoppage, must ...


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